January 22, 2014 | Tom Suddes

Gates Foundation Annual Letter

Bill and Melinda Gates published their annual letter yesterday, framed around 3 MYTHS.

“By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been. People are living longer, healthier lives. Many nations that were aid recipients are now self-sufficient. You might think that such striking progress would be widely celebrated, but in fact, Melinda and I are struck by how many people think the world is getting worse. The belief that the world can’t solve extreme poverty and disease isn’t just mistaken. It is harmful. That’s why in this year’s letter we take apart some of the myths that slow down the work. The next time you hear these myths, we hope you will do the same.”
- Bill Gates    

Bill Gates was quoted as saying, “The exercise of writing forces you to have logic and critical reasoning.”

That ties very nicely to one of my many mantras, “Write it down. It will happen.”

3 MYTHS … that Block Progress for the Poor.

If you live in (or anywhere near) the FOR IMPACT WORLD … you ought to read this message.

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January 21, 2014 | Tom Suddes


Synchronicity. Serendipity. Spooky.

I LOVE Tom Peter’s ‘stuff’. I’ve been following him for over 30 years, every since his mega-hit IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE. I think I’ve got all of his books and pamphlets that he’s ever written.

I’m up at Notre Dame (at boxing) … and I’m reading PROJECT 04: SNAPSHOTS OF EXCELLENCE IN UNSTABLE TIMES. Ten years old. Still ridiculously relevant.

“It is the foremost task – and responsibility – of our generation to RE-IMAGINE our enterprises and institutions, public and private.”

T.P. goes on to make/reinforce a ton of cutting-edge thinking around TALENT … DESIGN … WOMEN … PASSION … CHAOS/VOLATILITY/CHANGE … and much more.

I went to tompeters.com to see if PROJECT 04 was still in print. Instead, I see an amazing 104-page PDF on SOME (REALLY) (IMPORTANT) STUFF, which he posted on the 13th of January on the way to New Zealand.

Save this link somewhere for when you have time to go through all the slides/pages. It will definitely cause to THINK!

  • Do good work.
  • People development, training at very top of the heap.
  • Thank you. Acknowledge. Appreciate.
  • Listen up.
  • Radical, personal development.
  • (My favorite) READ. READ. READ.

Special Note: Yes, it’s a lot of ‘stuff’. But, I promise that you will take away one BIG nugget that will change the way you think.

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January 21, 2014 | Tom Suddes

Big Al on Problems

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Tim Kight’s terrific insight states this in another way: “Every organization is perfectly designed to get the results they are getting.”

If you’re really, really interested in thinking differently, solving problems, a different design, change … I encourage you to check out the new GUIDEBOOK: ON CHANGE.

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January 17, 2014 | Tom Suddes


“It’s easier to change PEOPLE than to CHANGE people.”
Kets De Vries (via Tom Peters)

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January 16, 2014 | Tom Suddes


We are less than 3 weeks into 2014. Perfect time to think about our IMPACT, our GOALS and things we want to CHANGE for the better (in our organizations, our teams and our lives).

CHANGE (THE) RULES is a little play on words. In this generations lexicon, to RULE is a good thing. CHANGE DOES RULE.

At the same time, in order to really CHANGE something (yourself, your organization, the world), you also to have CHANGE THE RULES.

Paul Arden, in his wonderful book, IT’S NOT HOW GOOD YOU ARE, IT’S HOW GOOD YOU WANT TO BE, speaks for a multitude of entrepreneurs and change agents when he says,

“You can’t solve the problem if you’re playing by the RULES.”

I believe it’s much stronger than that: THERE ARE NO RULES!!! (But, there are a lot of problems.)

As always, my goal is to motivate you to TAKE ACTION.

With that in mind, I am sharing with you the ARTIST’S PROOF of CHANGE (THE) RULES.

These For Impact Guides are where we share our thoughts, ideas and experiences … in nugget form … aggregated on specific topic. This one is ON CHANGE … FOR DIFFERENT RESULTS.

Special Note to ‘Tribe’. Please read or download or use … and then get me your FEEDBACK! I’m actually ‘open sourcing’ the document to the thousands of people in our For Impact Family. Please, please, please take a moment and let me know if you find a typo, a misspelling, or a mis-thought. Better yet, tell me how the CONTENT will help you … or where we might be able to strengthen it.


Special, Special Note: Here is the DEDICATION for Change (The) Rules … shamelessly and admiringly borrowed/stolen from Apple’s THINK DIFFERENT campaign. If you are one of the following … you need to read Change (The) Rules.


“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

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January 16, 2014 | Tom Suddes

Make Each Day Count

Average life expectancy in the United States is 28,725 days.

You can count the days … or make each day count.

Personal Note: With a birthday coming up in March, I will have almost exactly 5,000 days left. I better get crankin’!

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January 15, 2014 | Tom Suddes

2014: A Year of Change

I know.  You’re tired of talk about the New Year, resolutions, changing your life, diet, physique, relationships, etc.

I’m definitely not trying to cut into Oprah or Dr. Phil but …

I do want to talk to you about what CHANGE means to me … and how that might have the greatest IMPACT on you, your team or your organization.

“EVERY organization is PERFECTLY DESIGNED to get the RESULTS they are getting.” 

I know you’ve seen this Tim Kight epiphany before.  It’s one of the best ways to think about DIFFERENT RESULTS means DIFFERENT DESIGN (CHANGE).

As every parent or grandparent knows, the only person who really, really likes ‘CHANGE’ is a wet baby.

Here are three quotes to help you begin the PROCESS.

    1. “BE the CHANGE you want to see in the world.”  – Gandhi
    Gandhi’s eponymous quote is on everything from T-shirts to coffee mugs to bumper stickers.
    CHANGE is up to us.
    Some people can actively CHANGE ‘THE’ WORLD. All of us can CHANGE ‘OUR’ WORLD (our impact, our income, our health, our relationships, our lives).
    2. “Social Entrepreneurs CHANGE the PERFORMANCE CAPACITY of SOCIETY.”  – Peter Drucker
    Mr. Drucker was THE management guru and acknowledged thought leader in the field of leadership and organizational development.
    Here’s a perfect example of his clear and challenging thinking. Don’t just ‘CHANGE’ something, CHANGE something BIG!!!  (e.g. “The PERFORMANCE CAPACITY of SOCIETY!!!”)
    3. “Stop BEGGING for change. Start begging for CHANGE.”   – Robert Egger
    Bob Egger’s wonderful book title and even more wonderful content provides a catchy, pithy way to talk about radical transformation, creative destruction and Quantum Leap innovation.

Adapt or Die.  Change or Die.  Change to Live. 

As we begin the year 2014 (which, regardless of the Chinese, I am calling THE YEAR OF THE EAGLE … and ALL ABOUT VISION … FOCUS … SOAR), I am encouraging our team and your team to think about what it actually means to CHANGEFOR IMPACT.

Here are 6 stories on CHANGE … and a small action/activity to help turn your SACRED COWS into HAMBURGER!

    Have you ever visited the Great Barrier Reef in Australia?
    On the inner (leeward) side of the reef, there are NO waves, NO turbulence, NO ‘CHANGE’ … and NO LIFE!
    All of the colorful fish, the beautiful coral and the amazing plants are on the ocean (windward) side of the reef… where they are hammered every day with crashing waves, intense turbulence and ‘CHANGE.’
    Forty years before Copernicus revolutionized the world view, Leonardo da Vinci said, “THE SUN DOES NOT MOVE.” Both these dudes were born on a flat, unmoving planet in the center of the universe, around which the ‘SUN CIRCLED’.
    A century after their deaths, that same planet was a rotating sphere orbiting around the sun somewhere in a universe too vast to even have a center! The church tried to suppress this as heresy. The best ‘THINKERS’ of the times thought this concept absurd.
    The planet/solar system did not ‘CHANGE’ but, the paradigm for understanding it had been turned inside out.
    Steven Pressfield (currently my favorite author) states that the creative act is primitive.
    “Babies are born in blood and chaos; stars and gravity come into being amid the release of massive primordial cataclysms.
    The hospital room may be spotless and sterile, but the birth itself will always take place amid CHAOS, PAIN and BLOOD.”
    In the 15th Century, Italy was immersed in chaos, war, bloodshed, terror… and ‘CHANGE.’
    It produced da Vinci, Michelangelo, Brunelleschi… and the RENAISSANCE.
    Around the same time, SWITZERLAND experienced hundreds of years of peace, consistency, sustainability and no, none, nada, nil ‘CHANGE.’
    It produced the CUCKOO CLOCK.
    My good friend, Jim Mahoney (Battelle for Kids), tells this wonderful story:
    It’s pretty easy to catch monkeys in the jungle. You just carve out the inside of a coconut with a small hole in the top, fill the coconut with NUTS and BERRIES, and attach the coconut to a stake or a tree.
    The monkey comes along, sticks its hand inside the coconut, and grabs a handful of nuts and berries. The monkey will be there when you get back. Guaranteed.WHY? Because it will NOT let go of the NUTS and BERRIES … and can’t get it’s FIST out of the coconut.
    Here’s My Own Short Final Story On Change:
    I won a trip around the world (long story, long trip). While visiting India, I actually saw those famous ‘sacred cows,’ and learned that once they got too old or useless, they were shipped across a neighboring border and turned into HAMBURGER!


Tomorrow we will release the Artist’s Proof of a new Guidebook, CHANGE (THE) RULES. Watch for it!

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January 14, 2014 | Tom Suddes

A Culture of Freedom & Responsibility (MUST READ)

This is not a short post! It’s not 140 characters to be tweeted nor is it designed for ADHD, fast-twitch consumption.

Encouragement.  Hopefully, I and we have built some trust within our ‘Tribe’.  If so, what follows could be one of the most thought-provoking pieces you’ve read in a long time.If you are a For Impact Leader, Chief Whatever, Executive Director, Member of the Senior Team, Vice President/Team Leader of the Advancement/Development Office, or an aspiring Social Entrepreneur … I truly believe this is a must read.

This month’s HBR talked about a “A Great Place To Work”.  Patty McCord, former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix and now a consultant, wrote How Netflix Reinvented HR.  FWIW, I think that is a terrible name for this powerful article on culture, talent, counter-intuitive/radical practices and more.  Take the time to read the article.  Patty and Reed Hastings, the Founder and CEO of Netflix, shared two over-arching principles:

  1. “Hire only ‘A’ Players.  Excellent colleagues trump everything else.”
  2. “Adequate performance gets a generous severance package.”  As they say, this blunt statement underscores their hunger for excellence.

They then shared their five tenets for a true culture of freedom and responsibility:

  1. “Hire, reward and tolerate only fully formed adults.”  (If this were your ‘only’ hiring practice … it would change the game.)
  2. “Tell the truth about performance.”  (They eliminated all formal reviews!  “Too ritualistic and too infrequent.”  Their alternative:  “Have conversations about performance as an organic part of their work!”)
  3. “Managers own the job of creating great teams.”  (Netflix told all their ‘managers’ that building a great team was their most important task!  They were not measured on whether excellent coaches or mentors or got their paperwork done on time.  “Great teams accomplish great work, and recruiting the right team was the top priority.”)
  4. “Leaders own the job of creating the company culture.”  (Read Patty’s example about action not matching values.)
  5. “Good talent managers think like business people and innovators first and like HR people last.”  (For me, “business people and innovators” could be summarized as ENTREPRENEURS.  Think like an Entrepreneur makes for a truly astounding, creative and and innovative culture.)

Pay attention!  What follows has been called one of the most important documents ever to come out of Silicon Valley.  It’s been viewed more than 5 million times on the web!

*Even with all the reading that Nick and I do, somehow we missed this.  It has had a huge IMPACT on our little company … and I am confident that you will find some real gems and nuggets within these 127 slides titled Reference Guide on Our (Netflix) FREEDOM & RESPONSIBILITY CULTURE.

Here are things that jumped out/literally leaped off the page for me:

  • The real company values, as opposed to the nice-sounding values, are shown by who gets rewarded, promoted or let go.
  • A great workplace is stunning colleagues.
  • The Keeper Test:  Which of my people, if they told me they were leaving for a similar job at a peer company, would I fight hard to keep?
  • Our model is to increase employee freedom as we grow, rather than limit it, to continue to attract and nourish innovative people.  (Check out the Complexity/Performance charts!)
  • Netflix policy for expensing, entertainment, gifts and travel:  “Act in Netflix best interest.”  (5 words long!)
  • CONTEXT … NOT CONTROL.  (This is a truly exceptional nugget that could change your entire organization.)
  • Highly aligned, loosely coupled (vs. a tightly coupled monolith or independent silos) is dependent upon high-performance people and good context.  Goal is to be big and fast and flexible.

If that’s not enough to get you to download the ‘slides’, you probably won’t get it anyway.

***One of their 9 behaviors and skills is IMPACT! These are the VALUES that drive hiring and talent:


In their world, IMPACT means:

  • You accomplish amazing amount of important work.
  • You demonstrate consistently strong performance so colleagues can rely upon you.
  • You focus on great results rather than on process
  • You exhibit bias-to-action and avoid analysis paralysis.

WHEW!  I urge you to print out everything and take some solo time to digest and think.  Then, get your Senior Team or colleagues together and see if you can’t take some of the above and create an amazing CULTURE OF FREEDOM & RESPONSIBILITY.

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January 13, 2014 | Tom Suddes

Building A Game-Changing Talent Strategy

HBR’s January/February issue talked about “A Great Place to Work” and featured IDEO, BlackRock and Netflix. Here is the link to the initial article Building A Game-Changing Talent Strategy.

Here’s my shorthand to help encourage you to read these articles if you are in any kind of Leadership position in a For Impact organization.

  • Game-changing organizations are purpose-drivenperformance-oriented … and principles-led.
  • Great comments about investing in professional development and training.
  • “Committed leaders and gifted HR managers create an organizational climate of SPIRIT and ENERGY – a magnet for the very best professionals.”
  • The game-changing organizations focused on talents four inherent tensions:
      Support both strategic and operational superiority.
      Are globally scaled yet locally relevant.
      Foster collective culture yet enable high potentials to thrive as individuals.
      Policies endure yet are agile and open to revitalization.

At the end of the article, there are 12 statements that you should look at and answer if you really want to have a GAME-CHANGING TALENT STRATEGY!

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January 8, 2014 | Tom Suddes

How To Draw An Owl

I got the following from Seth Godin’s daily blog. If you don’t know Seth, look up prolific writer in whatever dictionary you use and his picture will be there. I get a blog from every day.

With total and highly complimentary attribution … here’s the beginning of his post on HOW TO DRAW AN OWL.

The problem with most business and leadership advice is that it’s a little like this:


The two circles aren’t the point. Getting the two circles right is a good idea, but lots of people manage that part. No, the difficult part is learning to see what an owl looks like. Drawing an owl involves thousands of small decisions, each based on the answer to just one question, “what does the owl look like?” If you can’t see it (in your mind, not with your eyes), you can’t draw it.

WOW! “If you can’t see it … in your mind … you can’t draw it.”

In the For Impact world, I think this is a beautiful example of the need for both VISION and FOCUS.

What does the ‘owl’ look like? You can’t just draw two circles, and then say “Okay, draw the owl.” You’ve got to lay out the VISION as clearly as possible … with great STORY LINES to help people ‘see it in their mind‘.

Then comes FOCUS. When you’re ready to finally draw the owl, there has to be enough detail and enough of a picture in the mind to actually be able to fill in the ‘final’ drawing.

We used this wonderful analogy yesterday to talk about ‘What does a name-changing, health care philanthropy organization look like?’

We are going to use this with our Suddes Group coaches and clients to help people get from ‘two circles‘ to the ‘finished product‘ … by trying to be as clear as possible around what the ‘owl’ looks like.

Note: If you’re part of the Tribe, you know how important vocabulary and common language is for an elite team. This is just another great vocabulary word to help shorthand results!

What does the owl look like?

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